An abdominal belt, which is otherwise called an abdominal binder, is a broad compression belt that encircles and compresses our abdomen. These abdominal binders have various names. Some people call it a belly wrap, while some call it a compression band or a postpartum girdle. Abdominal belts are available in various sizes and widths and they are usually made from elastic. Normally, patients are recommended wearing these abdominal belts after undergoing an abdominal surgery.
The main idea behind is that the elastic material of the belt will help protect the surgical incisions when at the same time helping to decrease post-operative pain. In addition, abdominal belts will also be used to give secondary lumbar support to the abdominal surgery patients. Some abdominal belts will come with straps to hold the surgical drainage tubes in position.
So, do these abdominal belts really work? What are they used for? What does the research say about abdominal belts? How to use one?
Let’s see everything about these here:
Doctors may recommend wearing an abdominal belt after:
- Giving Birth
- Exploratory laparotomy
- Gastric bypass
- Bariatric surgery
- Ovarian cystectomy
- Spinal surgery
- Tummy tuck
- Hernia repair
- Gallbladder surgery
Apart from these situations, a carefully-placed abdominal belt can be used in patients suffering a spinal cord injury. In this case, the abdominal belts will help:
- Support the patients’ abdomen
- Maintain the patients’ abdominal pressure
- Improve the patients’ respiratory function
Do these Abdominal Belts Really Work?
Know what an abdominal belt can do here:
As mentioned above, primarily, abdominal belts are used to protect the surgical incisions after an abdominal surgery, thereby preventing tears in the incision area. However, this is not everything that an abdominal binder can do. It will help provide lumbar support to the patients after surgery. In addition, it will compress the patient’s stomach so that the healing process can happen smoothly. Thus, these abdominal belts are said to simplify what would otherwise be difficult but an important part of abdominal surgery recovery – putting in compression.
These belts help apply compression to help with swelling and edema after an abdominal surgery. Also, they can hold the tunnels in a collapsed until scar tissues take hold in the procedures, such as liposuction.
Besides all these, an abdominal belt will help speed up the healing process by enhancing blood supply to the incision sites.
As such, the major benefits of using an abdominal belt after an abdominal surgery are:
- Reduction in post-surgery pain
- A decrease in psychological distress following the surgery
- Promotion in deep breathing
- Getting you moving more
Abdominal Binders Help With Orthostatic Intolerance…
We can see that a 2010 study saying that abdominal belts should be the first line of protection for patients who suffer an extreme dip in blood pressure upon standing. This is medically called orthostatic intolerance (otherwise known as OI). This study showed that putting in compression to the abdomen of patients with orthostatic intolerance helped in the prevention of blood pooling. 
In addition to this benefit, using an abdominal belt also showed to increase the standing systolic BP by 11 mmHg and diastolic BP by 6 mmHg. Thus, if you are dealing with an orthostatic intolerance, abdominal belts could be a fast and effective alternative to your prescription medicines. In fact, you can prevent the negative side effects caused by the prescription drugs by using an abdominal binder instead of medications.
Abdominal Binders Can Also Help in Some Non-surgical Situations
The abdominal binders are not used exclusively for post-surgery situations. The compression that these abdominal belts provide can help the uterus in newly delivered mothers restore to its original size more quickly in a vaginal delivery.
Also, as mentioned earlier, these abdominal belts have been used as an effective solution for back pain. In addition to these, some people used to wear these abdominal belts to help provide support to their core activities and heavy weight lifting.
So, what the research says about the abdominal belts?
At present, there is not a lot of scientific proof on the benefits of abdominal belts. However, a systematic review published in the year 2014 has found that abdominal belts may help reduce post-operative pain, as well as psychological distress. Also, the C-section delivery patients who used abdominal binders experienced less blood loss. In addition, there is also some proof that these belts may also promote deep breathing and coughing in patients after an abdominal surgery. There is also some evidence that the abdominal belts can improve overall mobility in these patients. 
Are these studies to prove the efficiency of abdominal binders?
While these research studies can be considered as a good starting point, we can say that the amount of research and scientific proof available so far is not sufficient. A major problem with all these studies on abdominal belts is the timing. Until now, research only looked at the results a few days after surgery. For instances, the studies that are conducted on C-section delivery patients, all the measurements have been taken only for 1 to 5 days after surgery. It leaves us to wonder what the long-term positive effects of abdominal binding will be.
More research is needed…
More research is definitely needed to show abdominal belts are absolutely helpful in preventing fluid build-up (in a condition called seroma) after abdominal surgeries and in improving overall physical functionality of patients.
How should you use an abdominal belt?
After an abdominal surgery, you may wake up to see you are wearing an abdominal belt. Based on the type of operation you have undergone, you will be asked to wear an abdominal belt for up to 6 weeks or for the entire duration of recovery. As you recover, your physician may ask you to use the belt for a shorter time.
To wear it right, you must wrap the binder around the abdomen, underneath the clothes in such a way that the closures are at the front. Ensure that the belt is snug. However, it should not be too tight. You can be able to breathe comfortably with your belt on.
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